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Other titles in the Medill School of Journalism Visions of the American Press series:
Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century (Medill School of Journalism Visions of the American Press)by Norman Sims
Synopses & Reviews
In 1953, Mary McCarthy published an article in Harper's entitled Artists in Uniform telling the story of a woman who encountered an anti-Semitic colonel on a train. Readers approached the tale as fiction, finding symbolic meaning in everything from what the Colonel ate to the clothes the
woman wore. Soon after its appearance, McCarthy wrote a sequel called Settling the Colonel's Hash in which she explained that there were no symbols in this story; no deeper level: it had been simply a fragment of memoir. But critics immediately took issue with McCarthy's assumption that two
literary arenas exist--that there is a clear difference between autobiographical and fictional narrative--and the incident has become a classic illustration of the fascinating and nebulous borderlands that lie between fact and fiction.
From the experiments of Hutchins Hapgood, W.E.B. Du Bois, James Agee, and Joe Mitchell to the challenges posed by the New Journalists and contemporary literary journalists such as John McPhee, this collection explores the fine line between fiction and nonfiction from both historical and critical
perspectives. What motives led Ernest Hemingway to return to extended narrative nonfiction after becoming a successful novelist? Why did John Steinbeck write The Grapes of Wrath as a novel rather than a work of journalism? How does the plain style of writers like Swift, Defoe, and Orwell affect
the reader's sense of what is true and what is made up? In what way does the Mary McCarthy episode illuminate the ways in which we approach fiction and nonfiction? Raising a wealth of intriguing questions, Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century offers a forum fordiscussion, involving the
reader in what becomes an active definition of literary journalism. The book assembles essays by such well-known critics as Tom Connery, Ron Weber, William Howarth, Norman Sims, John Pauly, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Hugh Kenner, David Eason, Kathy Smith, and Darrel Mansell. Lively and unique,
Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century concerns the very essence of literature itself, showing how writers have reshaped styles to permit passage across the borders between fact and fiction, in the process investigating what these borders might be, and if they exist at all.
This wide-ranging collection of critical essays on literary journalism addresses the shifting border between fiction and non-fiction, literature and journalism.
Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century addresses general and historical issues, explores questions of authorial intent and the status of the territory between literature and journalism, and offers a case study of Mary McCarthys 1953 piece, "Artists in Uniform," a classic of literary journalism.
Sims offers a thought-provoking study of the nature of perception and the truth, as well as issues facing journalism today.
About the Author
Norman H. Sims is a professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the editor of The Literary Journalists, the author of True Stories, and the coeditor with Mark Kramer of Literary Journalism. He lives in Deerfield< Massechusetts.
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